Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (Cover Artwork)

Johnny Cash

American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)


Johnny Cash once had his truck catch on fire and burn down half of a national forest, and when the judge asked him why he did it, Johnny simply said, "I didn't do it, my truck did – and it's dead."

America is coming up on fifty years of Johnny Cash's music. Since 1955, Johnny has made fans of country turn to rock n roll, and fans of rock turn to country. Inspiring everyone from Social Distortion to Glenn Danzig, Johnny seems to appeal to everyone.

This past year produced yet another album from the Man in Black, "The Man Comes Around," which features Johnny originals, as well as numerous covers from Nine Inch Nails to Simon and Garfunkle. The man who was third in nominations at the MTV Music Awards trailing only Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliot, is still doing his thing, and he's still got it.

The album opens with a Johnny original, which he writes about in the liner notes of the album. A song inspired mostly my God and his wife, who recently passed away after 35 years of marriage. Johnny wrote over dozens of lyrics to this song and has to painstakingly drop everything down to just over four minutes. A beautiful song to start the beginning of a beautiful album.

Johnny covers the Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt" on the album's second track. One of the saddest songs probably ever recorded, and rumor has it that when Trent Reznor heard the song for the first time, he had to leave the room and couldn't stop crying. A song about drugs and about loss, all this coming from a man who has experienced it all and still hurts at the age of 71. Johnny can do an awful lot with an acoustic guitar.

Now my favorite track, "Give my Love to Rose." Johnny, who is known for his amazing storytelling abilities, wrote possibly one of his saddest and sweetest stories yet on track number three. The story of a man who left prison and was trying to get back home to his wife and son, but fell sick and dying near the train tracks. Johnny stumbles onto the dying man as the man expresses to Johnny how much his wants to see his wife and son and how they need to keep on living and he is proud and he will always love them. Some say sunsets are gorgeous, but this beats any sunset ever created. Johnny can even top mother nature.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" is the next track and is done wonderfully. Johnny is accompanied by Fiona Apple during the chorus, and for some reason it seems to work nicely. This song feels like it was always meant to be sung my Johnny, so I am glad he finally sings it.

Johnny even sings a song by Sting. "I Hung my Head," another great story about death and sadness, made even more sad by Johnny's voice. Whether or not Johnny actually has experienced the specific things that he sings about, you can't help but feel the passion and hurt in his voice and music.

Johnny perks and spices things up a bit with his cover of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." Another nod to religion, which has played a huge part of Johnny's life, a very bluesy tribute to anything that deserves it. Again, another song that seems to fit Johnny perfectly, like he should of sang it years ago.

"Sam Hall," my other favorite track. "My name it is Sam Hall, and I hate you one and all!" Perhaps the song that best shows Johnny's energy back in the sixties when he was selling more records than the Beatles. Reminiscent of "Boy Named Sue."

And once again Johnny records the Hank Williams tune, "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry." Johnny recorded this song years ago, and this version could be even better because it features a guest appearance by Nick Cave. The duet between Johnny and Nick towards the end of the song closely resembles perfection. Slightly incredible.

The album's final track features a great chorus featuring the whole Cash gang, which almost feels like it came out of some Disney movie. Perhaps it did, and I am unaware. "We'll Meet Again." With the whole album having a dark appearance, this is a great ending to a great album. The saddest and happiest album conceivably ever imagined. Johnny has done it again, and he will never stop, and for that we should all be thankful.

"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but we will meet again, some sunny day."

Thanks Johnny.